Starbucks Just Opened Its First "Signing Store" in the US — See All the Accessible Features
On Oct. 23, Starbucks finally opened the doors of its first Signing Store in the US. Located in Washington DC, the store employs 25 people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing partners and proficient in American Sign Language (ASL). Starbucks officially announced the news this past July and released a statement saying, "The store will create a distinctive retail experience for all customers, while offering a unique store format that promotes accessibility and offers employment and career advancement opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people."
The location is modeled after Starbucks's first-ever Signing Store, which opened in Malaysia in 2016. Starbucks employees in the US expressed interest in a similar store that caters to the deaf community, and a group of them traveled to Malaysia to learn about the inner workings and design of the space.
The store displays exclusive artwork and custom mugs designed by deaf artists, and it features a variety of enhancements to support the deaf and hard of hearing customer experience. For example, deaf baristas wear ASL aprons embroidered by a deaf supplier, while hearing partners (employees) who sign wear an "I Sign" pin on regular green aprons. Customers who are new to ASL have the option to place their orders using a picture menu of popular Starbucks drinks or by writing it down on a so-called "tech pad."
The first Signing Store in the US can be found at 6th and H Street in Washington DC. Keep reading to take a peek inside.